Pet-friendly retirement villages and aged care facilities were almost unheard of a decade ago, with many residents forced to surrender their fur babies to loved ones or shelters.
Today, the needs of Fluffy and Fido, even Tweety, are among the top priorities for developers working within the retirement living sector.
Aveo, Living Gems, Stockland, Palm Lake Resorts and Ingenia Lifestyle are among the developers embracing petfriendly retirement and aged care living, with feathered and four-legged friends welcome at many of their facilities.
Off-leash parks and dog walking social groups, on-call vets and groomers are just a few of the perks being used by developers to attract “pet-tential” residents, who are often at the forefront of any decisions made by their human owners.
And the benefits of pet ownership are well-researched, with the Animal Welfare League advocating for more pet-friendly aged care and retirement villages in Australia.
Living Gems Toowoomba resident Robert Hickin, 85, recently brought home Lily, a miniature dachshund pup.
“When it came time for me to move from our acreage at Withcott, one of the reasons I chose Living Gems was because it was pet-friendly,” he said.
“Since getting Lily, I am so much happier. She gives me unconditional love and is my little mate.”
Mr Hickin said that besides Lily’s company, his new buddy had also opened up his social world.
He now often walks his four-legged friend around the complex, getting to know many of the other residents.
Stockland Salford Waters Retirement Estate resident Archie Phoenix said the Victoria Point community had proven to be a great home for himself and his best mate Nellie, a white Highland Terrier.
“She seems to be quite popular and Nellie is very curious and nosy,” Mr Phoenix said.
“When I take her for walks she knows all the best Jatz biscuit stops along the way and stops in to say hello to other residents.”
At Ingenia Lifestyle Bethania, pets are also part of the social fabric.
“Our residents really embrace healthy living and they strive to maintain their active lifestyles. Residents have even started a dog walking group for everyone in the community to enjoy,” Ingenia Lifestyle project sales manager Karen Ross said.
“The daily walks around the community are just one of the many ways in which the residents and their canine friends socialise and remain connected.”
Reenie Butler founded the local dog walking group, with more than 10 residents participating daily.
She said new residents were always invited to join the group, which had proven to be a fantastic way to unite the community.
“We all walk at our own pace and then meet up at the pergola near the river so our dogs can play – and of course get a few treats,” she said.
Living Gems sales and marketing director Ben Livingstone said over-50s lifestyle resorts aimed to provide a better quality of living for residents.
“Owning a pet is a major mental health benefit, as doing so can help reduce stress, increase social interaction and increase physical activity,” he said.
“A healthy lifestyle is essential for living a fulfilling lifestyle.
“Providing the facilities and opportunities that our residents need to live the healthy and active lifestyle they want is part of our core value proposition, and pets are a big part of that.”
Ingenia Lifestyle Bethania residents Penny Hinks and Lyn Schedueresidents Penny Hinks and Lyn Schedue embrace healthy and active lifestyles with their pets by joining the dog walking group. Living Gems Toowoomba resident Robert Hickin (below) with dachshund pup, Lily.